Year: 2021 Source: Current Addiction Reports. (2021). Published online 14 March 2021. doi: 10.1007/s40429-021-00361-z. SIEC No: 20210301

Purpose of review: Suicide is a major public health concern and a leading cause of death in the US. Alcohol and opioid use disorders (AUD/OUD) significantly increase risk for suicidal ideation, attempts, and death, and are the two most frequently implicated substances in suicide risk. We provide a brief overview of shared risk factors and pathways in the pathogenesis of AUD/OUD and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. We also review clinical recommendations on inpatient care, pharmacotherapy, and psychotherapeutic interventions for people with AUD/OUD and co-occurring suicidal ideation and behavior.

Recent findings: Among people with an underlying vulnerability to risk-taking and impulsive behaviors, chronic alcohol intoxication can increase maladaptive coping behaviors and hinder self-regulation, thereby increasing the risk of suicide. Additionally, chronic opioid use can result in neurobiological changes that lead to increases in negative affective states, jointly contributing to suicide risk and continued opioid use. Despite significantly elevated suicide risk in individuals with AUD/OUD, there is a dearth of research on pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for co-occurring AUD/OUD and suicidal ideation and behavior.

Summary: Further research is needed to understand the effects of alcohol and opioid use on suicide risk, as well as address notable gaps in the literature on psychosocial and pharmacological interventions to lower risk for suicide among individuals with AUD/OUD.